Running Tales

Chairman’s Run

Mbarire at Magadi runYesterday Chairman’s run lived up to its expectations of being one of the most difficult runs in the Swara Calendar.  It used to be the most difficult but that top spot has been taken by the Illovoto Run.

Swaras came with the intent of conquering the Magadi…. some were humbled and others conquered…. Some came seeking to redeem themselves after Illovoto and redeem themselves they did.   It is at this run last year that Naibei fell ill while attempting  a 40 km.  Yesterday, he was back and he completed the full 40 km. Way to go Naibei.

I wish to thank Wahome, Davis and Chairman for offering their vehicles to support the run.  Wahome, please pass our thanks to Githenya and the other driver, I do not remember his name.  Also,  not forgotten is Lyma for securing the venue and organizing the breakfast and for sacrificing her run to ensure that the runners were nourished after the punishing run and to the Treasurer, Peter for all his help in ensuring that the run went smoothly.

Special thanks to Davis for volunteering his time, the whole day practically, to support the run.  Thank you Davis.

Have a great week and see you all on Saturday, when we do this all over again…..

Running Tales

Maiden Two Oceans Marathon

My two oceans TshirtOn Saturday, 4th April 2015, I stand among 11,000 runners who have travelled from the farthest corners of the globe to take part in the marathon dubbed as the most beautiful marathon in the world.  As I read the names of the runners and their statistics, I am more than awed by the sheer number of times some of the runners have done this marathon.  I read some bibs – Susan Half 2 Ultra 7, Oscar half 1 Ultra 22 and I think to myself, if I attempt this run again, and that is a big if, my  statistics will  read Loise Half 0 Ultra 1.  Here I am, at the start line of my first ultra, with butterflies in my stomach, and I can already see my bib  on my second ultra,  which is crazy as I have vowed  that I will run this marathon only  once.

But let me go back to the beginning…..

The preparation for this marathon started in mid last year, when we, my training buddy and friend, Ferrah and I started playing around with the idea of taking part in this great marathon.  The idea graduated into commitment when in early December, we registered and paid for the marathon.   This was after we ran our first 50 km in Ndungu Kahihu’s run in Karatina.  We thereafter stared training for it, which saw us tackling crazy distances in extremely hot weather.

At the beginning of the year, there were several runners who were interested in taking part in the marathon and at one point I remarked that this year the Swaras will be ably represented.  Avani and Niraj would be tackling the 21 kms.  Sadly, a few days to departure, Ferrah got an emergency  and she had to cancel.  And alas, I was the only Swara left to run in this year’s Ultra.

My departure from Nairobi and arrival in Cape Town was full of frustrations.  My flight was delayed for several hours and could not make my connecting flight to Cape Town.  At one point, I even wondered whether I had travelled in vain.    I finally got to Cape Town at 4.00 p.m. on 3rd of April, and was at the Registration Centre by 4.30 p.m. where, as luck would have it, my registration number could not be traced.  Talk of when it rains, it pours.  The organizers had to print another set of bib and provide me with another timing chip.

I got to the start line at about 5.30 am.  As I stood at the back of a huge crowd of runners, butterflies were fluttering furiously in my stomach and I said to myself, this is it, this is what you have trained so hard for. In a pre-run advise from Chairman, he had told me if I run in just under 6 min per kilometer, I would be able to make the 5.30 time as there would be 8 kms which were downhill and I would be able to shave off a few minutes.   I knew that if I ran this run the chairman’s way, I would not be able to make the sub- 6 hrs let alone sub 5.30, as the route had been changed due to the recent fire in the mountains.  So I decided to run my way, which was 5.30 and under per km where I could, as I knew for certain that I would not be able to make the sub 6 minutes per kilometer on the hills.

The firing gun went off and we took off.   My aim was to run 10 kms in under one hour.  At the 10 km mark, I had done 55 minutes and at 20 km  I had done 1 hr 50 mins.  At 30 kms I had done 2hrs 47 min  and I thought to myself, Chairman’s time  might be attainable after all. At 26 kms the serious hills started and for the first time I wished we had run the Magadi run during my training period.

At 40 kms I had done 3 hrs 47 mins  and I thought to myself, a sub 4 hrs  is achievable for the full marathon.   At  50 kms I had done 4hrs 53 mins and at  5 hrs I had done 51 kms.  All I had to do now is 5 kilometers in under thirty minutes.   At that point, my thigh muscles started to vibrate, which is a prelude for cramps, in the muscles, I mean.  I prayed Lord, please do not let the muscles cramp on me, not now, just five more kilometers and they can cramp all they want.

As I ran the last kilometer, I told myself  – I had done it, whether I made the time I was hoping to make or not I had done it.  I had  trained and ran  the Two Oceans The chairmans timeMarathon. AND  I made chairman’s time:

If I was Liz I would have been screaming my lungs off, but since I am not, I just pumped my arms in the air and let out a ‘yes’.

The support on this marathon is amazing.  The water points with water, coke and energy drinks, packed in satchets of about 100 millimeters  were every three kilometers.  Over and above, the residents came out and braved the cold to cheer on the runners and some came bearing goods.  I ate a salted potato, chocolate, and sweets all from the residents.  There were live bands playing huge speakers blaring music and even two school bands.   Seven radio stations and one televisions station were broadcasting  live from the route and when one passed, they would call out ones name and encourage you.  Such encouragement came in very handy when going uphill. The two oceans medal

This is an amazing marathon.

My very heartfelt gratitude go to the Swara family at large for their encouragement, to Otora for his support in numerous ways from great marking to sweeping an carrying our energy drinks and ensuring they are availed to us at the exact point we said we needed them.  Last but not least to our Chairman for sacrificing his Saturday runs to support us. Thank you all.

Running Tales

How to get “lost” on a well marked Run

Lost on a trail

Date August 25, 2012

On Saturday, Ajaa and I found ourselves guests of the state, and we were temporarily housed at Karen Police Station, but I am way ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning:

I woke up early as usual, had a small breakfast, bid my time, and left for Ocean Pub. I arrived shortly after 7.00 a.m.  Almost immediately, Ajaa in a car full of people arrived and promptly said “let us go”. Ajaa, Vera [I hope this is how her name is spelt] and I were attempting the 40 kms.   I quickly removed the warm clothing I was wearing and took off after them. Two steps into the run and Ajaa asked “have you carried money”? I promptly went back, got my wallet, grabbed a few notes, stuffed them in my pocket and took off again after them.

I caught up, and we settled on a steady, easy run.  At regular intervals Ajaa would inform us of the kms covered, to which I would think, I really do not want to know how many kms we have covered, but I kept my thoughts to myself.  We seemed to be going uphill a lot and my thoughts were ‘surely Chairman couldn’t have chosen a terrain this tough for the long run” but there we were.  At one point I simply could not run uphill and opted to “power walk” or my version of it. Ajaa in his usual cheerful self, kept prompting me on saying “strong Loise, you can make it” which did a lot for my spirit but nothing for my stamina.  I was promptly left behind but caught up again when the ground levelled.  And this became the sequence to how the run would be run.

With 16 kms to go, the going got tough and we had to stop and buy sodas, and seeing as I was the only one “monied”, the onus was on me to purchase the sodas.  I gratefully bought the sodas and shortly we were on our way again.  A few minutes into the run my thigh muscles started to “shake” or “vibrate” and I thought this is my excuse to get on a “boda boda” and head straight for Ocean Pub.  I did not want to be seen to quit, so I hoped Ajaa would make the decision for me, but alas he suggested we stretch, which we did and we continued with the run and caught up with Vera.

After a few more kms, Vera lagged behind.  After we had run a few more kms, Ajaa promptly announced that we had 7 more  kms to go and I asked him how many kms we had covered so far. He informed me 40kms  and I almost stopped!  We came upon a “by-pass” which for the life of me I cannot remember what it was called and lo and behold there was another hill.  As usual Ajaa went ahead and I trudged along and my only thought then was just “one step at a time.”  Half way up the incline I was “escorted” by four boys who were between six and eight year and they kept in step with me and for that reason alone, I did not walk but “ran”.  At the end of the “hill” I found Ajaa running in circles waiting ….. and again we went, following the marks.

We ran, cross over a stream and we had to climb another “hill” and all I could think of … “not another one”!  Ajaa in his usual cheerful self, kept prompting me with his “strong” utterances.  Even if I wanted to run up I couldn’t, I simply did not have the strength.  Upon clearing the small incline I saw Ajaa talking to a man in army fatigues and I thought he was just making conversation while waiting for me.  When I got close I heard the Army Officer say that we were trespassing.

Let me state here that there was no fence, no markings whatsoever and no warning about “trespassers being prosecuted or worse shot”.

He called his Superior who came cross over a distance of less than 400m in a vehicle! Go figure!  I actually thought that once we told our story to the officer, he would allow us to “cut across” the compound and in that way, reduce the distance! Talk of being naive.

The “Commanding officer” informed us that we were in a military compound and we were to be charged with trespass.  Every officer who came asked us the same questions, “What are you doing here?” and Ajaa kept giving them the same response.  All I could think of was “why don’t you all come at the same time, ask the question and get an answer all at once.” The “Commanding Officer” told his “officer” to arm themselves to escort us to the Police Station, like we were known and wanted criminal.  Talk of “overkill”.

We were made to provide our personal details, including the names of Chiefs from our “home” areas meaning “shags”.  Thereafter we were “bundled” into a military “mariam” and taken to Karen Police Station.  One of the Military officers escorting us actually had an “uzi”!

We were handed over to Officer Kajuju at Karen.  We were booked and were almost taken to the cells.  But Ajaa requested Officer Kajuju to allow us to sit in the “courtyard” as we were starting to shiver from the cold clothes.  Officer Kajuju also allowed Ajaa to use her cell phone to make a few calls.  As we were waiting for Ajaa’s wife to come bail us out, Ajaa asked me, “you do not want to call anyone”? I informed him that I do not want to worry anyone. My assumption was whoever came would bail both of us out.

Officer Kajuju asked us whether we wanted to be included in their lunch and Ajaa promptly said yes.  All I could think of was “have you seen the kind of diet the maabusus are fed?”  But again I kept my thoughts to myself.  To say I was pleasantly surprised when the meal of Ugali, sukuma and “kayama” because my plate had only ONE piece of meat, is to put it mildly.  The meal was actually good and we cleared our plates.  We then requested Officer Kajuju to “buy” for us sodas, with me providing the cash, and a newspaper to while away the hours as we waited to be bailed out.

When the OCS finally arrived, Ajaa’s wife could not post “cash bail” for us, because according to the OCS “the matter was military and the decision on how we were handled was the military’s”.  Thereafter a flurry of telephone calls ensued and shortly we were ushered into a room, given plain papers and told to write our “statements” from the moment we woke up.  In about five minutes I was through and I had not even filled a page, and there was Ajaa writing and writing.  After we had given our written statement we were ushered into the OCS’s office and informed that our very own Mutua, had vouched for us and we were being released.  Apparently Mutua had heard of the “arrest” but he did not think it was the Swaras.

And that is how we found ourselves guests of the state for a short while.

Ajaa had severally asked how someone can get lost while the route is clearly marked, I guess now he knows.

My heartfelt gratitude to Officer Kajuju, who exercised personal discretion and who is also an officer with a heart.  Thank you Officer Kajuju.

See you all on Saturday.